Chudakarna Sanskar

Mundan Sanskar means cutting the child's hair for the first time. This sanskar should take place by the end of third year. Child's hair are shaved with only a shikha left, a tuft at the crown in the head. Originally, the arrangement of the shikha was the most significant feature of the Chudakarana and the number of tufts was determined by the number of the pravaras belonging to the gotra of the child. Later, in northern India, keeping only one tuft became universal. But in the Deccan and southern India, earlier traditions remained alive to some extent.

A muhurta and a suitable location (the temple, the home, or the banks of a river) are selected. Brahmins, relatives, and friends are invited to attend. On the appointed day, the child is bathed and dressed in new clothes. The mother sits with the child to the west of the sacrificial fire (see Agni). The father stands to the right of the mother and offers oblations to the fire. He then pours warm water into a container of cold water, saying, 'With the warm water come hither, Vayu, Aditi, cut the hair.' Then the father rubs some butter or ghee on the right side of the child's head and inserts three stalks of kusha grass into the child's hair saying, 'Oh herb, protect him, do not inflict pain on him.' He takes a razor and telling it to be friendly and gentle, he cuts a little hair from both sides of the child's head,Chudakarana while reciting the requisite mantras. The cut hair is placed on a mound of bull dung. The razor is then given to the barber to complete the task.

The rules and procedures for performing the Chudakarana are established in the Grihyasutras (Sutra). They say this ceremony should be performed when the child is between one and three years old but can take place any time upto the seventh year.

At Rishikesh, on the banks of the Ganga, there is a special chudakaran or mundan sanskar. It is a great ceremony performed with all the proper rituals followed. In this ceremony, along with cutting and shaving hair, Vedic mantras and prayers are chanted by trained priests, acharyas and rishikumaras. The child's head is shaven and the hair is then symbolically offered to the holy river. The child and his/her family then perform a sacred yajna ceremony and the Ganga Aarti.